I left our beautiful Verde Valley, Arizona, expecting a hot (and I mean HOT) trip to Quartzsite. I planned on using the A/C once I dropped down from Sunset Point on I-17 into north Phoenix…from there I would head west to Wickenburg and then into no man’s land and the lower Sonora desert.
When I reached the Lake Pleasant Highway it was sprinkling and lightning was popping everywhere as I headed west bound. By the time I reached Wickenburg, I could tell no A/C would be needed until I got further west and lower in elevation.
The more I traveled the harder it rained, and the harder it rained the more the truck wanted to ski along the highway. The whole area is prone to flooding so I drove slower and more carefully than usual. By now A/C was a distant memory and I thought about firing up the heater each time I entered a downburst. By the time I reached I-10 about ten miles from Quartzsite the rain had let up and I could see my destination down in the desert valley.
I stopped at my favorite service station to fill up for the return home. The usual cake of bugs on my windshield were not there, so filling up didn’t take long. I went inside the store for a soda and the attendant pointed out the window and we both stared at a dark wall of clouds heading our way from the south. I excused myself and headed post-haste to the motor home to do the things needed to keep the rig from imploding from the heat that I knew would return.
By the time I got the power and water on so I could fill five gallon buckets of water, I was getting not just a little concerned about being zapped by lightning. As I finished filling that last bucket outside, the micro burst hit with full furry. After installing the last bucket inside the motor home, I was soaked to the gills.
I called my wife from inside the safety of the motor home and she reminded me of a large umbrella we kept in the home. I signed off with her knowing the longer I waited the wetter I was going to get, so I grabbed the umbrella and started the process of going out by the street to shut the water off and I also needed to turn the power off at the pedestal, which was located next to a large tree. I would also have to lock the storage shed back up and it was exposed to the elements, which had started to remind me of the Biblical flood.
As I stood under the carport at the end of the motor home getting up the nerve to head out to the water meter, a large flash followed by a clap of thunder that made my ears hurt reminded me of the crazy thing I was about to attempt. Here I stand with a large umbrella in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other. I was the perfect lightning rod preparing to do a Ben Franklin experiment!
I sucked it up and headed for the meter – the street was flooded up over my boots and even with the umbrella, I was now dripping wet and expecting to see Jesus at any second. I managed to get the water turned off and headed immediately for the power pedestal. I lifted the lid and pressed my wet palm against the breaker and pushed until it moved to the shut off position. Again, I expected to receive 440 volts while soaking wet and be discovered after the storm looking like a giant burned out matchstick welded to the metal electrical pedestal.
Now all I had to do was lock up the storage shed, which seemed like a football field away from the safety of the motor home carport. After locking the motor home, I sloshed out there and locked up the shed, Then, I pretty much swam back to the truck, got in and dragged the wet umbrella in behind me. There I sat dripping water all over the seat, but happy nonetheless that somehow I cheated death once again.
I gladly headed home and after getting off I-10 and driving toward Wickenburg, it was evident that my ordeal was not over. While the rain was letting up, I could not see out the windshield (due to humidity) unless I ran the A/C. When I did run it, it was also evident that I was going to die of pneumonia because cold air and wet clothes don’t mix. I turned up the heater dial and finally reached a happy medium while watching the gas gauge head south because of the wind, wet road and the A/C being on.
I thought “The hell with it” and put an Eagles’ CD on and rocked all the way home to a waiting wife, dogs and one obnoxious parrot. When I drove into the carport, I couldn’t help but think of the great John Denver songs about home and family. Thank you, Lord, for getting me back to my sanctuary yet once again!
I’m just saying,